Despite rising prices, US booking sites say travel demand remains high

NEW YORK CITY, New York: As COVID-19 restrictions ease and travelers appear to be ignoring higher costs of plane tickets and road trips from rising fuel prices, U.S. booking sites, including Vrbo, Hopper and KAYAK, say they are witnessing higher demand for spring and summer leisure travel.

Jamie Lane, Vice President of research at AirDNA, which tracks the daily performance of over 10 million properties on vacation rental firms Airbnb and Vrbo, said, "We are seeing strong booking activity for spring break and the beginnings of a very strong summer," as reported by the New York Post.

While the price of oil surged to over $100 per barrel after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. carriers, including Delta Airline, United Airline and and American Airlines, reported a strong demand in travel after a downturn caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

According to AirDNA data, the booking pace for spring travel in the northern hemisphere rose 49 percent from the same period in 2021, and 26 percent higher than in pre-pandemic 2019.

In a statement, vacation rental booking platform Vrbo said, "The rush to book summer vacation homes has further accelerated in 2022," adding that demand for properties is already outpacing last summer by 15 percent.

Dakota Smith, Chief Strategy Officer at travel booking app Hopper, said, "When reviewing the booking data, it is clear that Omicron was a bigger concern for travelers than rising fuel costs."

Since fourth quarter 2021, the app has witnessed a 50 percent increase in travel bookings.

Airlines are counting on strong demand to deal with rising fuel costs, while some intend to pass along most of the increases to customers.

Paul Jacobs, GM and VP of KAYAK North America, noted, "As gas prices reach record highs, jet fuel prices may not be far behind... this summer travel season may be a pricey one."

According to KAYAK, flight prices were up 17 percent last week, compared to the same week in 2019.

"Rising fuel costs will have less impact on domestic and short-haul flights, and indications are that the pandemic-era preference from U.S. travelers for those trips is continuing, and may remain while the war in Ukraine drags on," Hopper’s Smith added.